Press Release
February 11, 2010

Sen. Benigno S. Aquino III calls for accounting of P9.4-B in ARMM funds

Liberal Party standard bearer Noynoy Aquino yesterday called for an accounting of the P9.44 billion allocated to the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 2009 which has remained in a sorry state despite the huge amounts poured into the region.

"Despite the billions of pesos poured into the ARMM, all the five provinces are among the poorest in the country and in the bottom 10 of the Human Development Index (HDI). We need to know why the people have remained poor and the region largely undeveloped," he said.

"Corruption is at the root of rebellion and banditry in the ARMM. We must know where the money went and if they were misappropriated, punish those who stole them. Kung walang korap, walang mahirap," Aquino said.

He made the call after President Arroyo signed the P1.54-trillion national budget, which the Congress passed last Dec.18. Of the P9.44 billion budget for ARMM in 2009, P6.17 billion was allocated for personnel services, P2.09 billion for maintenance and other operating expenses, and P1.18 billion for capital expenditures.

A special purpose fund amounting to P206.9 million was provided to the Office of the Regional Governor while another P4.99 billion was given under the Development for Education fund. The ARMM's share in the IRA for 2009 was P660 million.

Statistics from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) show how the ARMM has fallen way below the Human Development Index standards. The HDI combines measures of life expectancy, school enrolment, literacy and income to allow a broader view of a country's development than income alone.

The ARMM's development is comparable to Mauritania, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Pakistan. The region has a poverty threshold of 52.8% compared to 30 percent for the entire country. The number of malnourished children under 5 years old is 38.0 compared to the 24.6 percent for the Philippines.

"We have to make sure that every centavo of the people's money is spent for the right purpose. We deserve a government that is honest, transparent and competent to fight povetry. And the only way we can ensure this is to have a leadership na hindi magnanakaw," Aquino said.

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